Cause and Effect
(1) Give thanks to Yahweh, for he (is) good, for his steadfast love (endures) forever. (2) Let the redeemed of Yahweh declare this, those he redeemed from the hand of the enemy (3) and gathered together from the lands, from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south. (4) Some wandered in the wilderness, in desert wastelands, not finding the path to an inhabited city. (5) Hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted within them. (6) Then they cried out to Yahweh in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. (7) He led them by a straight path to walk to an inhabited city. (8) Let them give thanks to Yahweh for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of men, (9) for he satisfies the thirsty soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good (things).
Several repetitions in this opening segment of the psalm point us to its message, namely that Yahweh delivers those who look to him in their time of need. These repetitions include the phrases, “give thanks to Yahweh” and “steadfast love” (vss. 1 & 8), as well as “path” and “inhabited city” (vss. 4 & 7). “Soul” is used three times (once in vs. 5 and twice in vs. 9). Finally, “hungry” and “thirsty” are both found twice (vss. 5 & 9).
Who should offer Yahweh praise:
- In general, all those Yahweh has redeemed and regathered (1-3)
- Specifically, those wandering in the wilderness, hungering and thirsting, and led to the place of safety and abundance (4-9)
Yahweh, who delights in redeeming and regathering those who have wandered away, is worthy of our highest praise.
We see and experience the process of cause and effect constantly in our lives. Wikipedia provides the following definition: “Causality is the relationship between an event (the cause) and a second event (the effect), where the second event is a consequence of the first.” A good example is an alarm clock ringing to wake us up lest we fail to get up in time: cause (alarm clock ringing) and effect (we wake up, at least most mornings).
Note how this process explains what this segment of Psalm 107 sets forth in a series of cause/effect relationships:
Wandering in the wilderness...Hungering and thirsting
Hungering and thirsting...Trouble and distress
Trouble and distress...Crying out to Yahweh
Crying out to Yahweh...Yahweh’s deliverance
Yahweh’s deliverance...Thanksgiving and praise
We see a similar pattern in James: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (Jas. 1:2-4).
Facing trials...Testing of faith
Testing of faith...Perseverance
Perseverance...Maturity and completeness
Maturity and completeness...Joy: thanksgiving & praise
When we realize that God uses trials and testings to produce maturity and worship in those whom he loves, we will not be so quick to ask “Why, God?” when we find ourselves wandering in the wilderness, hungering and thirsting, in trouble and distress. Instead, we will more likely turn our worries and anxieties into occasions of prayer as we come to Yahweh and seek his face, trusting that God who has promised never to leave nor forsake us will bring us through the wilderness to the place of safety and joy.